I took time off from the Forty Hours at the Oxford Oratory to go up to London to participate in the Rosary Crusade this afternoon. I thought we were going to be in for rain as there was sharp shower just before the coach stopped but in fact the afternoon proved dry and sunny at times. I was anxious to go this year, having been unable to do so last year, to remember Fr Hugh Thwaites S.J., the founder of the Crusade who died at the age of 95 in the late summer. As it was also the 95th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun on this day in 1917 there was an additional cause for commemoration.
I had just arrived in Ambrosden Avenue beside Westminster Cathedral when I was greeted by a friend who is a seminarian at Allen Hall, and we kept company throughout the procession to Brompton. The numbers participating were again impressive, and we seemed as a procession to keep together in recitation of the Mysteries than on some previous occasions. At the appropriate points as we sang the Aves in various hymns most of us waved our hymn sheets in the approved Fatima fashion.
As usual on this occasion I was struck by the friendliness of Saturday afternoon shoppers as we passed by - when we are so often told there is such hostility to religion, here was renewed evidence of tolerance and, indeed, benevolence towards what we were doing.
At the Oratory itself those who had processed from Westminster and others who had awaited our arrival filled the church - as usual on these occasions I ended up standing in a side chapel. We had a forceful sermon from the Provost of the London Oratory, Fr Julian Large C.O., on the way in which Marian dogmas and devotion counteract heresy, and applying it to the observance of the Year of Faith. More so than in the past the devotions, including the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, spoke to me as an individual, making me all the more pleased to have made the effort to go. Benediction at the High Altar and the Salve Regina at the Lady Altar closed the devotions. A good way to spend the afternoon - next year's Crusade is scheduled for Saturday October 12th.
Afterwards I met up with two sisters, friends from their student days in Oxford, and their parents. We exchanged news and information about mutual friends before I set off back up Brompton Road and Park Lane to Marble Arch and the coach back to Oxford.